Forward lines and defense pairings:
[one_half]Carr – McCarron – Holloway
Hudon – Dumont – Andrighetto
Scherbak – Eisenschmid – Thomas
McNally – Gregoire – Fournier[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Barberio – Ellis
Bennett – Dietz
Hanley – Lernout[/one_half_last]
Scratches: Josiah Didier, Eric Neilson, Connor Crisp (undisclosed injury), Jacob De la Rose (lower-body)
Injured reserve: Ryan Johnston (back surgery)
It was the first game for the IceCaps following their six-game road trip that ended last Saturday in Hershey with an exciting comeback win. The week had been spent practicing to prepare for the homestand as well as attend to some of the problems that cropped up while in Pennsylvania. The opponents were the arch-rival Toronto Marlies for the first of 12 games this season.
St. John’s was welcoming Nikita Scherbak back to the lineup after he missed the entire rad trip with a lower-body injury. Unfortunately for the rookie forward, the return would be short-lived. With seven minutes left in the first period, the Marlies’ Viktor Loov delivered a solid shoulder check into the chest of Scherbak as he was coming out of the IceCaps zone. Scherbak missed the rest of the first period, took one shift in the second and wasn’t seen on the ice after that.
The first period ended with no scoring after an entertaining period. It was a great playoff-like atmosphere at the Mile One Centre with an equal mix of Marlies – IceCaps fans. A “Go Leafs Go” chant was loudly heard throughout the night.
St. John’s also lost the service of Markus Eisenschmid as he was on the wrong end of a big hit. The short bench led to some line juggling as the game went on.
Perhaps suffering a little in the second period from being down to three lines, the Marlies dominated outshooting the IceCaps 16-7. Yet it was St John’s who got the only goal of the second period to take a 1-0 lead. Charles Hudon stretched out to redirect a Bud Holloway shot. Hudon looked to the rafters after picking up his fifth goal of the season indicative of his relief following a less than stellar performance on the road trip.
The IceCaps dodged a bullet when Nikita Soshnikov blew past Hudon and Mark Barberio only to be thwarted by the pad of Fucale. St. John’s then took a 2-0 lead on a great individual effort from Darren Dietz.
Zach Fucale had a solid game particularly in the second frame making 16 saves but a mistake in the third with 11:13 remaining put the Leafs on the board. Casey Bailey scored into the wide open cage as Fucale had taken himself out of the play, overplaying the puck and sliding well beyond the crease behind the goal line.
The goal gave a boost to the Marlies who ramped up the pressure in the period. Christian Thomas took a bad offensive zone penalty for tripping. It took just 18 seconds for Mark Arcobello to score on the power-play going high glove hand on Fucale. The two teams did not add to their totals ending the third period in a 2-2 tie.
In overtime, Thomas atoned for his costly penalty by rifling a shot from the faceoff dot blocker side on Garret Sparks. Fucale picked up an assist as he banked a pass off the boards to Thomas.
It was the second straight win for the IceCaps in extra time. After giving up a two-goal third period lead, it was also another character test passed successfully for the young team.
The same teams play again on Saturday at Mile One to complete the two-game series.
▲ Zach Fucale, Morgan Ellis, Bud Holloway, Sven Andrighetto, Darren Dietz